Cruise Ship Security (or lack thereof).

In the past I have come across stories involving people going missing while vacationing on a cruise ship. I figured the incidents were possibly alcohol related or involved a person being swept overboard during a storm at sea. It was not until I read the article in “The Washington Post” this weekend (dated Sunday, April 22, 2007, p.A8) about a woman getting attacked on a Cruise Ship that I decided to look more closely into the Cruise Line industry.

The article first appeared in the Sacramento Bee by the writer; David Whitney. Apparently the victim; Laurie Dishman was enjoying a vacation on a Royal Carribean Cruise Ship sailing to Mexico in February 2006, when she was sexually attacked by a janitor who was “doubling” as a security guard. It is reported that only three security guards were on duty that night to look after 3,000 people. More disturbing however is the fact that the so called “security officer” was actually a janitor. One wonders if the other two were also janitors and if it is “normal” company policy to put the safety and security of guests and staff in the hands of cleaners.

It is reprehensible to imagine that this horrible incident was perpetrated by actual staff members but the fact that they were masquerading as security officers is unforgiveable. As a security consultant and director of a State certified training school, I can not imagine that they had any security training whatsoever. In this day and age where the fear is that terrorists will enter the work force and weave their way into such sensitive fields as security, ethical employers do everything in their power to ensure the backgrounds and training of their staff. In this case it nearly looks like someone was merely paying “lip service” to a security requirement that was never going to be taken seriously.

But others took it seriously. A subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation entitled: Crimes against Americans on Cruise Ships“ was convened and their findings were published last month. One of those who testified before Congress was Dr. Ross Klein, a professor of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Klein told the House of Representatives that a person is 50 times more likely to be sexually assaulted onboard a Cruise Ship than back in their home town.

Dr. Klein based his findings on data released as a result of a court order and published in the L. A. Times on January 20, 2007. The findings showed that the U.S. rate for sexual assaults (per 100,000 population) is 32.200 while the annual rate of all sex related shipboard incidents (per 100,000 population) is; 161.996.

One of the major problems that U.S. Law Enforcement seem to face when investigating these crimes is that of jurisdiction. When the ships are outside of U.S. territories they apparently fall under international law. This seems to put the onus squarely on the Cruise Industry to ensure that they hire properly vetted security staff and train them on how to keep their clients safe and their industry clean. If there is no legal requirement to do so, there should be a moral and ethical need to do so.

Afterall, shouldn’t an industry worth $35 billion a year feel that their loyal customers deserve a certain sense of security ? A good start would be to check the backgrounds of everyone on their payroll….starting with the janitors.

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  1. Cruise Vacation Australia says:

    I have to agree with you,.staff should undertake a background check on large cruiselines, especially those with access to your room.

  2. Cruise Critics says:

    This is really good work keep it up

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